Ergativity & Chibchan

Jose M. Garcia.Miguel gallego at UVIGO.ES
Tue Feb 17 19:14:50 UTC 1998

Diego Quesada escribió:

> Now, given that most Chibchan
> languages are highly "discourse-run" (...), which means that marking of
> categories is
> intermittenty, applied only when needed, the presence/absence of "erg" in
> Bribri (and in its closest relative, Cabecar) -and to a lesser degree in
> Guatuso- depends, as you correctly suspect, on discourse-pragmatic
> aspects.

The point is that just like ergative marking correlates with low animacy and/or
low definiteness of NPs in split-ergative systems, I suspect that optional
ergative marking in A NP correlates with low topicality or new information in
some Chibchan languages (and, probably, in other languages).

Does anybody know of other languages in which variable ergative marking directly
correlates with discourse factors? Do they support / reject such a correlation?


Jose M. Garcia-Miguel
Linguistica Xeral
Departamento de Traduccion, Linguistica e Teoria da Literatura

Tfno:      +34 86 812355       -       Universidade de Vigo
Fax:       +34 86 812380       -       Aptdo. 874
correo-e: gallego at     -       E-36201 VIGO

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